BY NOW, surely you know that La Belle France is about to simply engulf Washington. For 12 days beginning May 15 our Kennedy Center stages will be filled with all the art, beauty and culture that can possibly be stuffed and crammed into a special jumbo jet and flown from Paris.
From this and other special planes will split forth the entire Orchestro de Paris, accompanied by its stunning choir; the incomparable company of the COmedie Francaise; and all the members of the Stuggart Bullet who'll be dancing French ballets.
Pierre Sailonger's wife, Nicote, has flown ahead from Paris to sound the clarion that COncordes full of ies importants citoyens of Paris are also coming over to help us observe our French Fortnight.
Countess Isabello du Salliant, sister of President Giscard d'Estaing, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and daughter Madame St. John Perse, widow of the Nobel Prize poet; the Count and Countess de Brantes and many other Super Swellz are coming.
On the premier night the three main Kennedy Center theaters will be going full steam with conductor Daniel Baranbolm leading the Orchestra and chorus in "La Damnation de Faust" . . . the Opera House will present the ballet in "Lady of the Camellias" . . . with "Ruy Blas" Being given by the Comedie Francaise in the Eisenhower Theatre.
Later the French Embassy will play host to probably the most spectacular affair since their fabulous dinner during the Bicentennial . . . all this for the benefit of the French-American Foundation.
There's no doubt about it . . . we'll simply be dripping, slopping with CLASS. Face it, you'll be zilch if you don't French it during the "Paris a l'epoque Romantique." The only sad note is that Pierre won't be here. Washington's never been the same since he moved his typewriter and piano to Paris.
Culture ran down the hallways of the Kennedy Center like a tidal wave last Saturday night as only a grand evening of grand opera can generate culture.
White kid gloves, which had'nt been out of dresser drawers in three years were back in service as extremely gussied-up ladies took their seats.
The Opera House was full to the rafters and the rafters rang with long, jubilant applause for the entire cast of Rossini's "The Turk in Italy."
It was quite a poignant occasion as well as a thrilling musical one in that Beverly Sills sang her (she says) retiring role and performance in opera.
After the ovations, Roger Stevens presented Sills with a small duplicate of the famous Kenenedy head, in lieu of what the Kennedy Center would like to have given her . . . "a $30 million endowment for the NYCO, to underwrite her new career" . . . for now her future lies in directing operatic productions for this fine company.
What a sin to hide that fiery hair and that face of happiness behind the scenery, but she says the strain of the years has taken its toll and she's determine to retire gracefully from singing while she's still ahead.
The great Mary Garden did this . . . at her peak . . . but few ever have the courage.
In the Golden Circle, under the tons of tinkling Irish Waterford crystal prisms on the chandelier, Beverly Sills held court at the after-performance supper. Sophisticates, socialites, opera lovers, even the opera haters stood in line five deep just to stand in her reflected starshine. She beamed, bubbled and was gracious to all.
Rep. and Mrs. Al Ullman of Oregon and Sen. and Mrs. James McClure of Idaho were the headliners from The Hill, with business being more than well represented by the High Priest Letter Writer, Austin Kiplinger, Mrs. K. wore a stunning opera suit from Mary O'Donnell of Dublin.
It was by far the most beautiful ensemble in the whole place . . . heavy linen jacket, all crewel embroided in greens and bittersweet with the latter color in the moire skirt and ruffled blouse. Sumptuous sables hung from her arm.
Livingston Biddle and Catharina, he of the National Endowment for the Arts, were centers of attention, as was that Total Southern Woman, Lillie Lou Rietzke, who bears a striking resemblance to Sills, but in a smaller, softer way.
Ken Crosby was enjoying the table spending supper . . . but everyone did, emptying the huge steaming silver chafing dishes and glorious trays of fruits and cheeses. And the wines flowed like wine!
Ambassador and Mrs. Schober of Austria were there and are quite proud that the Vienna Opera will soon grace Washington itself.
The soul and inspirations of Salvador Dall are acutely alive and zinging off the walls of the Washington World Gallery in Georgetown.
If you smoke too much you might never make it to the top floor of this renovation gallery, where "Spiridonism," a la Dall, grabs you 'round the throat or by your moustachio!
Spiridon, a French resident, by way of Yugoslavia, is dark, slight . . . his liquid eyes, though gentle, rivet the visitor with immense intensity, and he bids you in almost any language but English, and with exquisite European manners, to please partake of this exhibit.
And it is a feast . . . mad colors . . . wondrous, strange faces, small and large, striking, clear, but with some ethereal ones barely discernible.
Yes, he is certainly Dali's protege . . . and he calls this show, "Homage to Dali" . . . and his world is peopled with Dali-esque fantasias, also.
Spridons past shows and awards are impressive, as is his work . . . but none as impressive as this explosive yet gentle artist.
Our American Ambassador to Japan Mike Mansfield and Maureen returned to the U.S. to escot Prime Minister and Mrs. Ohira during their state visit to Washington, New York and other cities.
Mike retired from the Senate at the end of the 94th COngress, and after serving many years as Majority Leader, planned some nice quiet, reflective years. President Carter had other plans though, and now the Mansfields are doing their reflecting orientally in "Hoover's Folly" in Tokyo. The embassy residence is so named because it was built during the Hoover depression years for the unheard-of, staggering sum of $45,000. About one square foot of the formal garden is worth that now!
Life is nice but certainly not quiet for Mike, for he is immersed in trying trade negotiations and travels around Japan constantly. Maureen says he lives it, however, for even with Mike's pipe-smoking, sleepy, Western way, he is a tiger and a half for work.
And what with everyone who can wangle a visa going to the People's Republic of China these days. Maureen says their embassy resembles a combination Greyhound Bus Station and JFK Airport . . . Tokyo being the stopover on the way. It is very seldom they can have seated dinner party, for guest lists are so big receptions are the only function that will care for the number of guests they have . . . not just from U.S., but from everywhere.
General MacArthur ruled Japan and that side of the world from "Hoover's Folly" . . . and it was the very first house the emperor ever visited outside the Imperial Palace. Naturally he had to go there to confer with The General about the surrender . . . you really did'nt think Doug was going to call on him, did you? All this began the Imperial Rule of Douglas I, so rudely interrupted by Harry the True!
The glorious pile across Pennsylavania from the White House and next door to Blair House, the Renwick Gallery, was the getting for the annual awards of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The good, the faithful, the well-preserved and the well-reserving gathered from all over to salute those brave souls who have fought the wrecker's ball. In the Grand Salon were gathered all sorts . . . from silver haired grande dames to tiny, uniformed Girl Scouts.
If the Bicentennial orgy did nothing else, it made Americans wake up to the fact that although our history is short, compared to ancient Lations, what we do have is worthy of being preserved, loved and honored.
And the National Trust is Our Good Leader in this, and as such, rewards preservation on every level . . . from great industrialist palaces such as Vizcaya, hard by Miami's Biscayne bay, to rustic covered bridges, to revered spot here in Washington . . . the Abner Cloud House on the C&O Canal, saved by Chapter III, Colonial Dames of America working with Dept. of Interior.
Fully Guggenheim Logan, head of the chapter, proves that an international jetset American can make a quaint stone miller's house by the side of one of George Washington's river navigation projects into a top priority object from our history worthy of restoration and renovation.
From Houston came Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Morris, to recieve corporate recognition in the Gordon Gray Award division. Flying in with them was their super guest from England . . . the Honorable John Richards of Gawsworth Hall, MacClesfield, Cheshire . . . who is, according to Mr. Morris, "the most reowned coachwhip in the world." This means, to all you non-coach-whip-horsey nothings, that the splendorously elegant Mr. Richards is THE foremost expert on carriages this side of Mars and the Moon . . . and serves as adviser to BBC on all their "coach and four" epics.
At the reception after the awards ceremonies, held in the lovely gardens behind the Trust's Decatur House on Lafayette Square, the mixed assemblage, all in all, looked pretty toney. But compared to John Richards, in the utter splendidness of his Saville Row, Peale, Locke and Company, etc. gorgeous. English duds, it was Ratso Time!
But the deep gray bowler, THE Locke and Co. bowler, plus the old rowing club tie with tiny pink hippos embroidered thereon (from Oxford, of course, my God, where else!?), plus standing Lord knows how many hands high . . . well, there just aint' no flies. British or otherwise, on John.
He is a great friend and driving companion of Prince Philip, the premier coaching addict in the Isles, and whispered that of all the British beauties flocking round the crown prince, Richards really felt Lady Jane Wellesley was the front runner in the Blooded Mothers Stakes of Who's Going To Get Their Daughter To The Abbey On Time To Marry Bonnie Prince Charles.
Carlisle Humelsine and Jimmy Biddle, the Trust Biggies, are to be praised for a smashing event, which brought their boards from across the country. An event from which Polly and Jack Logan rode off grandly to their Georgetown digs, in a chauffeur driven, black, Datsun station wagon, with a gold bulldog on the hood! Would you say that's class? . . . I would.
The big banner over the stage said, "The Democrats Are Having a Party," and before the evening was over some wag could have hung up another saying . . . "And It Was As Dishwater."
Further . . . the Democrates being the naturally raucous and adventurous souls they are, just why some raucous, adventurous. Democratic wag didn't do just that thing is a total miracle.
But say . . . all was not lost . . . they did have a dance floor there in the big ballroom of the Washington Hilton Wednesday night and a right jazzy band blasting away for their annual fund-raiser, spirit builder and self-backpatter. And just when it looked like all that would be done was plain old dance-dancing, a bald cat got on the mike and really got down, and lo' the boogeying began!
Everybody and his senator was there. Senator Wendell Ford of Ky. M C-ed, and introduced Bobby Byrd, Majority Leader and Famous Non Swinger, who must have been so unnerved by the flagrant boogeying, he actually forgot to play, hum or sing "Amazing Grace." Quick, somebody call the Archives and have it writ in the Book of Records!
Each Bigsie introduced another until Tip had called on Fitz, who finally called on Jimmy, and one did not have to be deaf to notice the lack of going bananas as JEC walked in. Everybody must have stopped to buy gas on the way to the dinner!
One is forced to comment on the choice of that instant-American, Mrs. Averell Harriman, as one of the co-chairman of the event. She does have the most amazing propensity for bobbing up in the strangest places, only outdone by her even more amazing propensity for marrying awfullly well. Pamela Beryl Digby Churchill Hayward Hamiman will survive, dear hearts, when the rest of us are down on our uppers.